The recognition of the importance of implementing CRM strategies for the healthcare industry has come at very fortuitous time. The healthcare industry needs to re-learn the needs of their clients to further provide higher level services. The benefits of using CRM for the healthcare industry are obvious. If a healthcare professional has more information about his or her patients, the services that the healthcare professional can provide will be of higher quality. CRM provides the information critical for healthcare professionals and successful CRM strategies provide this information at high level of efficiency.
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In the healthcare sector, the important factors of CRM include planning and strategy formulation, improvement of the communication process, improvement of the consulting process, increased efficiency of management campaigns, creation of an information database, creation of a communication strategy, identification of market segments, and creation of customer feedback systems, among others (CRM Infoline, 2014).
The use of CRM in the healthcare industry has been heralded as a collective move towards the correct direction. Healthcare costs are increasing. Healthcare processes need a drastic overhaul. Government sectors have attempted to bring the solutions to enliven the embattled healthcare industry. The most viable solution rests on improving efficiency in the delivery of healthcare services, that is, a solution that is encapsulated in the principles of CRM.
Thus, it is imperative for a healthcare organization to understand its customers and develop strategies that would address the changing behaviour of its customers. To effectively use CRM in the healthcare sector, tools from a wide range of potential CRM approaches must be identified, with respect to the healthcare professionals that will be using them. The objective of selecting proper CRM tools is to ensure that the services that are provided to healthcare clients are of the highest possible level. A high level CRM strategy transforms healthcare organizations or companies into client-oriented organizations. A client-oriented organization will utilize knowledge regarding client needs in tailor-fitting products and services for these clients. The wealth of CRM strategies used in the healthcare industry is a very good indicator of the benefits of CRM for healthcare organizations and their patients.
CRM strategies for the healthcare industry go beyond the provision of healthcare services for existing customers. As a matter of fact, CRM strategies for the healthcare industry also include strategies for marketing and sales. Effective healthcare CRM strategies will link information between marketing and sales departments with front-line healthcare professionals. The information that is shared by these healthcare participants will help improve sales effectiveness. In addition, healthcare organizations will be able to manage their overall management strategies in line with effective CRM strategies. For example, the use of a contact center will make a healthcare business organization more responsive to the needs of present and potential clients. The use of a contact center also opens up other requirements and opportunities for the healthcare organization such as a circling back of information to marketing and sales, the need for better software and database management, even partner relations and supplier efficiency programs.
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Healthcare providers that are considered to be leaders in the healthcare industry have already proved that CRM works. These business organizations have invested in the innovative technological frameworks required for enabling CRM tools. The results are very good. These business organizations that have implemented the CRM strategies and have invested in the necessary infrastructure have become more profitable. These business organizations have also become more credible since they have exhibited a marked reduction in medical mistakes in providing healthcare services. CRM also helps in reducing operating costs. In some cases, CRM also helps in expanding the operating reach of healthcare organizations, while maintaining the level of healthcare quality that these healthcare organizations provide their clients.
When CRM is implemented, certain elements that influence the success of the CRM strategy must be determined. The first element is the coherence of the CRM strategy with the overall objectives of the healthcare organization. Business objectives must be clear and implementable. The goals of the business organization must be well communicated throughout the entire organization. If the business objectives are clear, implementable, and well communicated, applying a CRM strategy may lead to success for the business organization.
CRM strategies require CRM tools. One of the most important decisions to make is the selection of the appropriate CRM solution that will suit the needs and requirements of the business organization. The process of selecting the CRM tools to be used is important because it helps determine the best approach for CRM implementation. The main objective is to match the goals, objectives, capabilities, requirements and aspirations of the business organization with the CRM strategy and CRM tools to suit the requirements of the customers.
CRM requires management to understand and focus on different aspects of the business. Technology and equipment are important but these do not influence the overall CRM strategy nor does it translate to CRM success. CRM strategies are successful if the employees that utilize the strategies are skilful. To ensure that employees have the necessary skills for CRM success, communication training should be undertaken. Communication training is one of the essential factors for CRM success.
Before an effective CRM strategy can be developed, the business organization must identify the business problem that it seeks to solve and find the best solution to the problem. Simply put, the business organization must have a very clear understanding of the urgent business problem to solve and a clear idea of how to solve it. Added to this, the business organization should be able to understand the expected level of benefit that the business organization will derive from solving the problem. Lastly, the business organization must identify the best approach of solving and reaching the desired benefit level. Most organizations accomplish this by dividing the business processes and then examining the parts to analyse the best approach to solving an identified business problem.
Related to the identification of the business problem is the selection of the proper measurement criteria. It is important that the company establishes a reasonable investment return criteria for the actions that the business organization will take. It is equally important to note that not all actions provide equivalent returns for the business organization and that the metric for investment returns must be combined with subjective justifications to provide a larger picture of the investment action’s importance to the overall plans and objectives of the business organization.
When these business solutions and measurements are identified, the next important step is to prepare employees for change. Managing change is essential to a business organization’s success. Change management is defined as a systematic approach that deals with change. Change in change management, is viewed from an individual and from a collective (business organization’s) perspective. Change management deals with issues related to adapting to change, controlling the pace and extent of change and then effecting change within the individual and throughout the business organization. In all of these three aspects of change management, a proactive approach is essential in driving the process. In business organizations, change management includes identifying, defining, communicating and implementing processes or procedures that will enable the business organization to deal with the changing environment. Change management is implemented to ensure that the business organization profits from the changing economic and competitive landscape.
Change management is critical within the organization due to its direct correlation with business sustainability. A business organization that can adapt to changing factors will survive, much like all the organisms in the world that have evolved as a result of external influences. In business organizations, adaptation is one of the most controversial issues since companies that have become successful tend to sustain their traditional methodologies (Search CIO, 2010). Given the familiarity of traditional processes, employees simply do not understand or are willing to accept any changes. If there is resistance to change, the company’s long-term goals and objectives, and ultimately the business organization’s success, may be in jeopardy. The implementation of an effective CRM strategy requires completing all the change-management requirements prior to CRM implementation. Otherwise, CRM will not be effective. The core requirement for CRM is sufficient and skilful employee training. Effective training comes from effective corporate communication. The message that the corporation must communicate throughout its organizational structure is that change is essential and beneficial and that the CRM strategy is one step towards adapting to that change.
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Much rests on the ability of the business organization’s managers to implement a CRM strategy. Business organizations succeed largely because a group of experienced managers take up important leadership roles to steer the business organization towards the business organization’s preferred direction. Nevertheless, managers must be trained about CRM to broaden their knowledge and provide them the necessary upgraded skills in managing the business organization. There are several training programs for managers for CRM implementation and identifying the most appropriate scheme will be beneficial to the business organization.
CRM strategies can be implemented using modern or classical methodologies. It is up to the business organization to pick and choose the methodology that would be appropriate for the organization. The consideration for choosing which CRM strategy to implement would depend on the appetite of the organization towards costs, efficiency and effectiveness. It is also very important for the business organization to ensure that everyone within the organization is skilled in using the selected CRM methodology or technology to be implemented. A holistic information and training program should be applied to ensure that everyone within the organization understands how CRM should be used.
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